06/23/2011 2:32PM

Queen's Plate veteran Bell has more at stake this time


ETOBICOKE, Ontario − David Bell has been represented as a trainer in eight Queen’s Plates, including the 1997 running, in which Love View gave him his best result, finishing fifth.

But Bell will be participating in the Queen’s Plate in a new guise Sunday, when he sends Ojibway Signal, whom he trains and also owns in partnership with Gus Vlahos.

“It’s a lot different,” Bell said. “That’s why I own horses. Even in a maiden-claiming race, watching my horse, my binoculars are shaking. In a stakes race, you get a little cranked up, but it’s not the same.”

Still, Bell figures to be a touch more excited than usual when he sends out Ojibway Signal, in search of a significant portion of the $1 million Queen’s Plate purse. Purchased by Bell for $22,000 at the local select yearling sale, Ojibway Signal won his maiden in his fourth career start last year, going two turns for the second time. In November, he finished a late-running fourth in the 1 1/8-mile Coronation Futurity for Canadian-bred 2-year-olds.

“The Queen’s Plate was always in the back of our minds, the way he ran last year,” Bell said. “He was always closing.

“It looked like he’d be good going farther, as a 3-year-old. Like going a mile and a quarter − that’s what you’re always thinking, always hoping.”

Ojibway Signal, who wintered at the nearby Pine Valley Training Centre, has been rounding into form this year. His best effort came in his most recent start Juen 1, when he stretched out to 1 1/8 miles and finished third in a restricted allowance race won by fellow Queen’s Plate entrant Head Honcho.

Justin Stein, aboard for Ojibway Signal’s maiden win and his three starts this season, will be riding in the Queen’s Plate for the third time. Stein’s best finish in the Plate is a fourth aboard longshot Ascot Bill in 2006.

Tip Your Hat steps up for My Dear

Saturday’s My Dear Stakes attracted a field of 14, including shippers More Than Minted, Catching Reyes, More Than Minted, Plus One, and Singing in Key.

But several local entrants will command attention, including Tip Your Hat, who was an 11 1/4-length winner of a maiden $32,000 claiming race here June 11, completing 4 1/2 furlongs in a quick 51.30 seconds. In her previous start here May 27, her career debut, she had a troubled start and finished fourth behind fellow My Dear entrant Rose and Shine.

“She woke up,” trainer Sam DiPasquale said. “She definitely learned something from her first start, and she’s starting to grow into herself. We’d nominated her to this stakes, prior to her last race, and she came out of it well.”

DiPasquale said he did not believe he was tempting fate when running Tip Your Hat for a $40,000 tag last time out and then dropping her a notch for her latest.

“She’s just a little speedster,” DiPasquale said. “We call her ‘Bambi’ around the barn. She’s like a little reindeer.”

David Clark, who has ridden Tip Your Hat in each of her starts to date, retains the mount for the My Dear.

On the wagering menu

Advance wagering on Sunday’s Queen’s Plate card, with the exception of pick-three and pick-four pools, will open at 3 p.m. Friday at all Woodbine Entertainment Group locations.

The pick-three and pick-four pools will open after Woodbine’s live Saturday program, at approximately 6 p.m.

Sunday’s early pick four, beginning with race four, will offer a guaranteed pool of $100,000. The guaranteed pool on the late pick four, beginning with race nine, will be $200,000.

There will be 12 races Sunday, beginning at the special first post time of 12:25 p.m. and with the finale scheduled for 6:50 p.m.

The Queen’s Plate is the 10th race and is slated for 5:38 p.m.

Queen’s Plate on television

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation will be televising the Queen’s Plate in a one-hour special beginning at 4:30 p.m.

The CBC’s Ron MacLean and Elliotte Friedman and Woodbine’s Jim Bannon, Sandy Hawley, and Renee Kierans will be the on-air crew. Woodbine announcer Dan Loiselle will call the Queen’s Plate for the 25th consecutive time.

Chris Elias will direct the broadcast, with Mike Dodson the producer and Jeff Pearlman the executive producer. Featured subjects will include Charles Fipke, owner and breeder of Queen’s Plate favorite Check Your Soul and 2008 Queen’s Plate winner Not Bourbon; Woodbine’s leading rider Luis Contreras, who has the mount on the filly Inglorious; and Woodbine’s leading trainer Mark Casse, who will be sending out Strike Oil, Hippolytus, and Enduring Star.

The CBC won the Sovereign Award in the film/video/broadcast category for its Queen’s Plate production last year.

TVG also will be on hand to cover the Queen’s Plate, with hosts Simon Bray and Paul Lo Duca.

Hollywood Hit back on winning track

Hollywood Hit, Canada’s champion male sprinter of 2009, got back on track with a 2 1/2-length win in the 5 1/2-furlong, $100,000 Karl Boyes Memorial at Presque Isle Downs on Wednesday evening.

Jim McAleney made the trip down from Woodbine for his regular ride on Hollywood Hit, who is trained here by Terry Jordan but ran in the name of assistant trainer Anita Bolton at Presque Isle.

Hollywood Hit earned $60,000, improving his career bankroll to $519,964.

Essence Hit Man to Highlander

Essence Hit Man was entered in the Boyes Memorial but did not make the trip to Pennsylvania and instead will run here in Sunday’s Highlander Stakes.

The Highlander, a six-furlong turf race that offers Grade 2 status and a purse of $200,000, attracted a field of 11. Essence Hit Man, trained here by Audre Cappuccitti, was a supplementary entrant at a cost of $4,000.

Essence Hit Man has tried turf just once, finishing seventh in the prep for the Summer Stakes here in 2009, but he has become a much improved runner in the interim.

“If he can handle it, just a little bit, I think he’ll be competitive,” Cappuccitti said. “He’s bred for it, up and down.”

Essence Hit Man worked on the training track turf course for the third consecutive week here Friday, breezing four furlongs in 50.60 under jockey Jono Jones.In his previous drills over the course, Essence Hit Man had breezed four furlongs in 47 and five furlongs in 59.80.